Issues: Termination under § 19b(3)(j); In re VanDalen; In re Hudson; Witness credibility assessments; In re HRC; Children's best interests; In re Olive/Metts Minors; In re Frey; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Cobern
e-Journal Number: 59620
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Wilder, Servitto, and Stephens
Holding that the trial court properly terminated the respondent-mother's parental rights under § (j), and that it did not clearly err in finding that termination was in the children's best interests, the court affirmed the trial court's order terminating her parental rights. Respondent admitted to the allegations in the petition, including that the children were living in unsanitary conditions that resulted in their requiring medical attention. She also admitted that she lived with a registered sex-offender. The trial court "did not err in finding that those conditions were largely unassuaged. It was determined at the beginning of the proceeding that respondent required intensive therapy in order to be able to safely parent the children." One of the therapy goals was to assist her "in making a realistic assessment of the conditions in which the children lived" before their removal "so that she could appropriately structure her life to avoid those problems in the future. During the 22-month proceeding respondent completed 15 counseling sessions" with 3 different therapists and showed little benefit. "She failed to take responsibility for the children entering care" and denied that they "sustained rashes and bite marks after attending visitation in her home." She maintained a relationship with a registered sex offender, "later married him, and did not believe that he was at fault for his conviction or that the children would be in danger in his presence." The court also concluded that it was not error for the trial court to find that respondent did not "provide proper care and custody for the children and was unlikely to so within a reasonable time. Her attendance at parenting times was inconsistent" despite the impact of this on the children, which was made known to her. Further, importantly, "at the time of termination, respondent lacked employment and housing." As to the children's best interests, they were not bonded to her at the beginning of the proceeding. "At the time of the termination hearing the three oldest children were in counseling," showed symptoms of PTSD, and were diagnosed with neglect. "By the time of termination, the children had been in foster care for 22 months. They were thriving and making progress in foster care and required permanency and stability in order to reach their full potential."
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